Review : Helloween - 7 Sinners
SputnikmusicIf Helloween concerned listeners by celebrating their twenty-fifth anniversary with a very distinctly un-metal compilation (that is, an acoustic/symphonic reinterpretation of their classic songs), then 7 Sinners should at least redeem the group in the eyes of even their ficklest listeners. And not just because it features a song titled "Are You Metal?" Rather, 7 Sinners is a continuation of the recent successes that have made Helloween one of the most consistent power metal bands still around (which is all the more impressive, considering their turbulent '90s era).
Essentially, 7 Sinners expands on the sound Helloween established on Gambling With the Devil. While never abandoning the hook-filled, melody based material they have popularized throughout their career, 7 Sinners amplifies the heaviness to a level one would not usually (ever) associate with Helloween. Compare tongue-in-cheek first single "Are You Metal?" with even 2005's tongue-in-cheek first single "Mrs. God". The difference is striking; where the former is a meek piece carried by frontman Andi Deris, partly due to its poppy structure and partly due to its pedestrian musicianship, "Are You Metal?" is hard-hitting and bombastic. Although keyboards somewhat take away from the heaviness, it's still unmistakeably more aggressive. "Long Live the King" takes it further, incorporating pounding thrash influences into the guitar work, along with the somewhat harsher singing style Deris has been utilizing since Gambling With the Devil. It's nice to see that when 7 Sinners does get heavier, it avoids aping Painkiller's brand of speed metal, which although wonderful, has been taken to the limit by Gamma Ray and Primal Fear. "Where the Sinners Go" sees Helloween explore a more mid-paced sound, based around chunky rhythms, while "Far in the Future" works in a massive instrumental break half way through the song.
It's worth pointing out just how cohesive Helloween sounds on 7 Sinners. While previous post-Kiske Helloween seems to have depended on either instrumental or vocal prowess, but almost never both, 7 Sinners sounds like a complete effort from the band. Even in the trio of more typical, melodic Helloween tracks, "Who is Mr. Madman?", "Raise the Noise", and "World of Fantasy", listeners are treated to perhaps the most balanced songwriting since the Keepers… albums. Perhaps that's testament to Helloween's recent stability. They've maintained the same line up for five years and it's translated into three very confident sounding records, each which has improved on the last. And for a band that has been around since the mid 1980s, that's pretty good. For a power metal band, it's remarkable....full text
ThenewreviewWhat has happened to you in the last 25 years? That’s what I thought you surly youths. I know most of you weren’t even a gleam in your daddy’s eye. I was beginning my junior year in high school, drinking crappy beer I hid in my attic, and sporting the world’s best mullet. My best skill was making mix tapes used to deafen myself through the amplified cassette player in my Camaro. Mix tape studdery doesn’t happen to everyone, but a few of us are chosen. I knew the best mix tapes had at least one song from each of my favorite bands. At that time Helloween began to appear in my mix tapes.
True story: In 1985 I picked up an album by Helloween at Peaches Records and Tapes in North Little Rock, just because their name intrigued me. Being in Arkansas and all, this action was apparently as bad as buying beer on Sunday. What I soon found out was that Helloween were a bunch of devil worshipers, at least according to local churches. They were among a list of artists being banned. Exodus, Slayer, Celtic Frost, Megadeth, Metallica, and even Dokken, yes, Dokken were a causing our youth to turn into devil-worshiping damned. I’ll admit there must be some truth because that generation is now running things in the Washington D.C., but I digress. Just a few weeks after I bought Helloween’s Walls of Jerico, the church I was attending burned records in their parking lot, including a stack of those. One day I aspire to be so metal that I am burned in a church parking lot.
Here I am listening to Helloween’s 2010 release, 7 Sinners and I’m flooded with memories of record burning and my bad haircut flapping in the wind while my ears bled. The difference now is I’ve worked at least twenty different types of jobs while Helloween stuck with their evil ways. What that means is I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to get good at something and Helloween have mastered their craft.
If you don’t know Helloween, let me introduce you: Andi Deris (vocals), Michael Weikath (guitar), Sascha Gerstner (guitar), Markus Grosskopf (bass), and Daniel Löble (drums). Like many bands who survived the 80s, numerous line-up changes and not-so-great albums plagued the band. I lost interest when they released Chameleon and haven’t thought much about them since then. Well, Weikath’s and Grosskopf’s tenacity has paid off. The band have come full-circle and produced their best album. While I wouldn’t compare them stylistically to Ratt, I will say they have done the same thing Ratt did with their release earlier this year. Helloween have taken their original sound and modernized it enough to be relevant musically and thematically....full text
Blistering[7.5/10] This may only matter to anal-retentive scribes like yours truly, but 7 Sinners is a heavily-penned Andi Deris Helloween album, which for those who live and die by the Keeper albums, is a different ballgame altogether. Not that we’d knock Deris’s songwriting aptitude, but only two songs here are written by main ‘Weenie Michael Weikath, the man who is partly responsible for the creation of European power metal and some of the band’s best songs. Thank goodness Deris could write, or another Chameleon could be upon us, yet the Pumpkins know better than that...
Unlike Gamma Ray, Helloween has gotten increasingly heavier, something that’s clear-as-day on opener “Where the Sinners Go,” lead single “Are You Metal?” and “Long Live the King.” A lot of this falls on the capable shoulders of drummer Dani Loble, who provides far and away, some of the fastest tempos to date on the aforementioned “Are You Metal?” and “Who Is Mr. Madman?”
The cheeky, free-for-all lens the band has a made a career out of comes through during the fun “Raise the Noise” (love the flute solo), and “If A Mountain Can Talk” (the Weikath/Sascha Gerstner guitar trade-offs are brilliant). But again, these songs are put through the extremity ringer, with Loble giving just each of the 13 songs an added bump that even going back to first drummer Ingo Switchenberg, was never this apparent.
Per the usual, Helloween manages stumble on a few tracks, most notably the too-clean “The Smile of the Sun” and “My Sacrifice,” which oddly sounds like a Masterplan knock-off. With the aid of down-tuned guitars, Deris’s voice is in top form, adding lots of color and character to album closer “Far In the Future,” a number that clocks in nearly at the 8-minute mark, evoking visions of “Keeper of the Seven Keys” (the song), but not quite as monumental.
In a career that has been as topsy-turvey as they come, Helloween circa 2010 have quite a bit of pep left in them. In fact, it’s not a reach to say that they’re a heck of a lot more of an imposing power metal band now then they were 10 years ago. 7 Sinners may not have blissful glee of the band’s glory years, but it’s the type of album you wouldn’t expect a band who has been through everything at this point in their career. Here’s to more “happy” songs next time out – you’ve proved you can be heavy, Helloween....full text
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